Page 18, CV Review, Essentials, Develop. Physiol., Dr. D. Penney

Misconception 20. the stretchibility (compliance) of most venous walls is far greater than that of most arterial walls at the same wall thickness.

Compliance is an expression of the elastic nature of materials, and is defined as the relationship between change in volume and change in pressure (Figure 1.07). This concept can be applied to blood vessels, the heart, and practically any other situation involving a closed structure.

For example, the two ends of a section of aorta can be tied off and fluid injected into it through a hypodermic needle attached to a syringe and a pressure transducer. The volume of fluid forced into this little balloon can be controlled and the subsequent increase in pressure observed. If 80 ml is injected, this might result in an increase in pressure of 40 mmHg. The compliance over the range of volume explored is 2 ml/mm Hg.

If another 80 ml of fluid were injected, the pressure would probably increase more than 40 mmHg, since the wall is already stretched and is in the steep portion of the length-tension curve. Consequently the compliance would be less, i.e. the wall is stiffer because the collagen fibers are being stretched.

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